Excerpt from the book, The Gift of Giving Life:
We Are Each Eve
By Heather Farrell, CD(DONA)
Mother, who willingly made that personal journey into the valley of the
shadow of death to take us by the hand and introduce us to birth—even to mortal life—deserves our undying gratitude.
—Thomas S. Monson
No matter who we are, where we live, or what we believe, all women on this earth share a common and powerful heritage; we are all daughters of Eve. We know that by choosing to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Eve brought pain, sorrow, and death into the world. Throughout history, she has been vilified and condemned for her choice, and much of the world’s sorrows have been blamed on her supposed poor judgment and gullibility. Yet, as Latter-day Saints, we have an enlightened and different picture of this great woman and the choice she made in Eden.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks has said, “Some Christians condemn Eve for her act, concluding that she and her daughters are somehow flawed by it. Not the Latter-day Saints! Informed by revelation, we celebrate Eve’s act and honor her wisdom and courage in the great episode called the Fall.”# In truth, given what Latter-day Saints know about Eve’s eternal character, it is hard to imagine Eve as a passive actor in the great drama of the Fall or as someone who could be easily deceived by any of Satan’s lies.
Dr. Nehama Aschenasy, a Hebrew scholar, said that in Hebrew the word which is translated as beguiled in the Bible does not mean “tricked” or “deceived” as we commonly think. Rather, the Hebrew word is a rare verb that indicates an intense, multilevel experience evoking great emotional, psychological, and/or spiritual trauma. As Aschenasy explained, it is likely that Eve’s intense, multilevel experience, this “beguiling” by the serpent, was the catalyst that caused Eve to ponder and evaluate what her role and purpose in the Garden really was.# We don’t know how long she sought for understanding, but we know she found it because we read that “the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it became pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise” (Genesis 3:6)
Eve saw. She wasn’t deceived—she made a conscious choice. Her choice is even more powerful when we remember that Eve wouldn’t have known about the Atonement or about the Savior until after she had eaten the fruit. In what was one of the bravest acts ever done, Eve ate—thinking that she was going to die but willing to suffer those consequences if it meant being able to bring children into the world. In view of her sacrifice, one can only imagine her incredible joy when God revealed the plan of salvation. How she must have clung to and respected the garment that was given to her. The garment, symbolic of Christ’s sacrifice, was her reminder and promise that even though she had chosen death, there would be continuing life for her and for all the generations that would come after her.
As daughters of Eve, modern women must make similar choices. We each get to decide whether we will “partake of the fruit” by choosing to welcome children into our homes or whether we will remain in a figurative Eden. The choice today is no less difficult than Eve’s because Satan is still trying his hardest to beguile Eve’s daughters and confuse them about their divine missions. General Relief Society President Julie B. Beck has said:
Satan knows that he will never have a body; he will never have a family. He will target those young women who create the bodies for the future generations and who should teach the families. They don’t even know what they’re being taught in the messages. It’s just seeping in, almost through their pores. Because Satan can’t have it, he’s luring away many women, and also men, and they’re losing confidence in their ability to form eternal families.
Satan is doing all he can to make young women fear the process of birth, diminish their faith in the importance of having children, and paint motherhood to appear as oppression. As modern women, we, like Eve, need to ponder, pray, and meditate about the decisions we make concerning childbearing, pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. There is no decision too small with which to concern the Lord when it comes to creating and nurturing His precious spirit children.
Ultimately, Eve ate the fruit because she saw and understood what God wanted her to do, not because she was swayed by the serpent’s popular arguments. As Eve’s daughters, let us learn from the example of our first mother and have the courage to do God’s work; not because we are afraid or deceived but because we see and understand who we are and our responsibilities as women in God’s eternal plan.